In July’s abundant installment Jason grapples with garlic, rattles Red Mustard, picks a peck of peas and revels in some riotous ripening…

Heavy rain over the first few days of July has topped up any soil moisture deficit that had accumulated during a relatively dry June. Outdoor crops got a boost and the last green manure strip sown late June is now well established. I have been pulling Garlic for the last two days and had forgotten what a physical job this is! Have about half of it done with 120kg harvested, it will all be for seed this year – hope to have 200kg for sale. It’s a Czech hard-neck variety called Havran, I have left it to dry in the propagation tunnel on racks that I made last winter.

Peas are beginning to ripen on the Hurst First Green Shaft and the Irish Green Pea. The first Tomatoes are close to being ripe, first Peppers are showing, but are very small, also Pumpkins and Squash are showing and the first French Beans are flowering.

I have been threshing Watercress and the Rocket and Red Mustard. It’s slow work by hand and straight away you start thinking about machinery. I haven’t really looked at what people are using but guess there must be a few hacks out there. I have heard of someone using a shredder without the blades as a thresher, I have an old shredder and a lot of radishes to thresh………………. Watch this space.

I had been mulling over a trip to England since the beginning of the month, I haven’t seen my family in close on two years. I decided to go for a week from the middle of the month and began working towards that tidying up a few jobs that wouldn’t wait until I got back. I finished pulling the garlic, tied up French Beans and weeded a few crops indoors and out. Netted the tomato tunnel against the blackbirds, watered everything fully, screened some French beans with fleece for isolation, tied Cucumbers and side shooted Tomatoes. What could possibly go wrong………………….!

There had been talk of a heat wave coming but in the West of Ireland we hear this on a regular basis, and usually nothing transpires.

It’s been in the mid-20s for the last 6 days here in Yorkshire and pretty much the same back home as far as I can make out, I am imagining that growth has gone mad and where crops have been ripening this will have been speeded up. I had to get my wife to move the Garlic out of the tunnel as it would have been too hot and it may have gone soft, cooked in the excessive heat. I will be back tomorrow evening and weeding, harvesting and watering with renewed gusto!

It’s now a week after getting back from England. On arriving home in the evening the initial inspection of poly tunnels and garden revealed that nothing had died. Not only that but everything had thrived, so much so that it looked like I had been away for three weeks, there had been that much growth.

Peas that had begun to dry were now completely dry, Tomatoes had ripened and produced two-foot-long side shoots. Onions outside had swelled, and Brassicas had produced a huge leaf canopy. French Beans had gone from being fingernail size to full size. Lettuce seed was looking good in one tunnel and not so good in another, Cucumbers were beginning to ripen yellow and Squash and Pumpkins were now full size. Amazing!

I have spent this first week back home, picking Peas, harvesting Kale and Red Mustard seed and processing some that had been harvested before. Also I have a good crop of Brighton lettuce seed which is a first for me. I moved the garlic back into the tunnel to finish drying (it had cooled down) side shooted and tidied up the Tomatoes, watered everything, tied up some more French Beans and hand weeded the Leeks. Also gave a farm walk to some interns from the Organic Growers of Ireland. It’s been full-on and I am not quite fully caught up but I am getting there.

I can see ripening crops starting to queue up to be processed, August will be all hands-on deck!